Letter: Social Workers Need Mental Health Training

Article excerpt

Dear Editor, -You are right to warn (Post, Sep 20) against a backlash towards social workers over the tragic deaths of Jordan Stewart and Toni-Ann Byfield, but there has to be personal and professional accountability as well.

The inquiries into their deaths will be part of that process but they will not be independent at this stage. They will be overseen by Birmingham's Area Child Protection Committee -made up of representatives of various agencies including social services.

Birmingham Social Services, along with many others, is having to recruit increasing numbers of newly qualified, overseas and inexperienced workers.

If social workers are to be able to deal effectively with children and their carers then they also need mental health training. This is not happening to any significant degree.

To expect newly qualified and inexperienced workers to spot the warning signs of mental illness is asking too much.

Social work has increasingly become split between working with children and young people and working with adults -the vast majority of qualified mental health workers working with adults are to be found within the adult services division.

Answers to why Toni-Ann was allowed to have contact with such a convicted and dangerous man as Bertram Byfield must be found urgently. …